How to Start A Rockstar Cigar Collection
For many of us, cigar collecting is as much fun as actually lighting one up. But there are certainly some things you’ll want to know as your collection starts to grow. Here are some things I wish I had known before I started my first collection.
I. THERE ARE NO HARD FAST RULES TO COLLECTING. SO MAKE YOUR COLLECTION WORK FOR YOU
There is one thing about the cigar world that actually drives me nuts. It’s the pious cigar smokers who think there’s a right way and a wrong way to do all this stuff. These are typically the people who will look down on others if they don’t do things a certain way. It goes against the very nature of the cigar world, which is founded in community.
When it comes to your collection, don’t listen to the critics. Certainly there are people with good advice out there. Those people may be worth listening too, especially if they can share their experience to help you avoid pitfalls of building a collection. But good advice is really all anyone has, so make your collection your own.
II. CELEBRATE DIVERSITY!
The cigar world has changed a lot over the last 100 years. And one of the biggest changes has come along in the last 20 years – an amazing diversity of blends. Today, there are so many different types of tobaccos, and procedures used to make cigars that it doesn’t make sense to stick to just one cigar or even one brand.
As you build your collection, diversify your selection. Grab different blends, wrapper leaves, sizes, and manufacturers. Even if you only like one type of wrapper leaf, like Connecticut Shade for instance, you can still find a massively diverse selection of different shade blends in most cigar shops. So don’t limit yourself, explore the horizons of the flavor empire that is the cigar world.
III. WHEN BUYING NEW BLENDS, BUY IN MULTIPLES
One to test and one to rest. That’s what I always say. It might seem like a clever way to encourage you to buy more cigars, but it’s a very helpful way to explore the cigar world. When you are getting new sticks, buying multiples will give you an leg up on finding blends that rock your world.
From time to time, you’ll smoke a cigar that’s just terrible. And it may very well be that that particular cigar was a bad one. They are each made individually by hand after all. Having a second cigar on hand will give you the chance to see whether it was an isolated incident or just a bad blend.
IV. KEEP INFUSED AND NON-INFUSED CIGARS SEPERATE
Infused cigars come with some pretty potent smells and tastes. They’re so potent, in fact, that if you store them in the same container as non-infused cigars, you’ll end up with an entire collection of infused cigars. For that reason, you want to keep your infused cigars in a separate container from your traditional stuff. It’s a pretty simple rule, but a very important rule too. I’ve known people who have accidentally infused some really expensive cigars by not knowing this rule.
V. FOLLOW THE 70/70 RULE… OR SOME VERSION OF IT
In the cigar world, there’s a guideline that says, ‘it’s best to store your cigars at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity. In reality, both of those numbers should actually be recommended as a range. Some people like their cigars a little dryer, while others want them a little bit more moist. The best ranges I’ve found for these two metrics are as follows:
Temperature is a wide one. Some people like to keep their cigars as low as 55 degrees, while others allow them to get as high as 74 or 75 degrees. I would warn you against letting the temperature get any higher than 75 as that is when mold and cigar beetles settel in.
Humidity is a little bit more narrow than temperature. I’ve met people who really enjoy their cigars all the way down at 60%. That’s pretty low, but there are people out there who dig it. Then on the high side, you won’t want to let your cigars get above 72% or 73%. Once again, you risk getting mold and cigar beetles if humidity gets too high.
VI. KNOW WHAT TYPE OF HUMIDOR IS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR CIGARS
Over time, people have stored cigars in humidors made out of all kinds of different things. Today, there are a few common types of humidors that you’ll see being used by aficionados. Some like wooden humidors, while others just use tupperware. Some like acrylic containers, and even still some others go big and buy refrigerated humidors.
At the end of the day, the type of humidor you choose should be the type that works for your lifestyle. If you want a seriously classy looking humidor, you can’t go wrong with wood. But wooden humidors also have the added downside of commonly being high maintenance. Refrigerator humidors are lower maintenance, but they can also be pretty pricy. Acrylic and tupperware both work great, but they often don’t offer very impressive presentation. So read some reviews, ask others what they’re using and what they’d recommend. Then go with a style that suits your needs.
VII. PICK A SIZE OF HUMIDOR THAT WILL WORK FOR YOUR CIGAR GOALS
You wouldn’t move a large family into a studio apartment. Just as you likely wouldn’t move into a 6000 sqft mansion all by your self. That just wouldn’t make any sense. And it’s the same way for your cigars. Decide up front how many cigars you want to keep on hand, then buy a humidor that will hold the entire collection.
This one reminds me of the old saying, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. If you go too small up front, you’ll find yourself buying more and more humidors to house your collection. That will make it difficult to manage. And often you’ll end up spending more on a hand full of humidors than you would have spent if you had just bought the right sized one to start with.
VIII. HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE FOR YOUR SPECIAL CIGARS
Eventually you will end up with a cigar or two that are special. Maybe they’re very expensive cigars, or maybe they’re just special to you. It might even be that they’re just cigars you want to age to get a smoother experience. Whatever makes them special to you, keep them separate. Most humidors (even desktop ones) have a divider to help you do this. And it’s important to do because it’ll help protect your precious sticks from issues that might spring up in the daily smokes portion of the collection. And it’ll help keep them from being smoked by anyone else pulling cigars out of your humidor when you have friends over to smoke.
So there you have it. Those are some things I seriously wish I had known before building my first cigar collection. In 18 years of smoking, I have had to throw away whole collections because I didn’t have the advice here. And this list isn’t exhaustive. Drop a comment with your cigar collecting tips.